You want to take a test drive in a Tesla car and even buy one, but you are worried whether it is safe with constant road construction. How can Tesla cars know how to react in construction zones?
Tesla Autopilot cars are programmed how to react to all kinds of situations, including road construction. Tesla Autopilot uses an adaptive neural net with eight external cameras and twelve ultrasonic sensors to help it respond and make split-second decisions even in road construction.
You are ready to buy a new car, and you want a Tesla, but you are not sure whether they are trustworthy in construction zones when using Autopilot. Read on to find out more about how they manage construction zones when using Autopilot.
How Does Tesla Autopilot Work?
Tesla equips all their cars since 2014 with an Autopilot system that still requires a driver that is paying attention to avoid situations that require the driver to take over immediately.
The Model 3 and Model Y, which are the type of Tesla available in the United States, do not have a radar-like the Models S and Model X available overseas. Instead, the Tesla’s made for the North American market rely on an advanced suite of Tesla cameras and sensors to guide the car to make the correct decisions.
Tesla does have kits that can be added to Tesla cars that were sold without the newer features.
The Features of the Tesla Cars
The following table shows the differences in the 2 autopilot options. Some of the features will help maneuver construction work zones much more effortlessly.
|Autopilot||Full Self Drive (FSD)|
|Traffic – Aware Cruise Control-Matches your car’s speed to the traffic on the road around you.||Traffic – Aware Cruise Control-Matches your car’s speed to the traffic on the road around you.|
|Autosteer – Helps assist you to stay in your lane and uses cruise control.||Autosteer – Helps assist you to stay in your lane and uses cruise control.|
|Navigate on Autopilot (Beta) – Helps guide your car on and off-ramps from a highway, suggests lane changes, engages turn signals and makes sure you take the correct exit.|
|Auto Lane Change – Helps assist in moving your car to an adjacent lane when using Autosteer.|
|Autopark – This feature will parallel or perpendicularly park your car for you.|
|Summon – Moves your car in and out of your parking space using a mobile app or your key when space is too tight to get in your door.|
|Smart Summon – Allows your car to navigate more around parking spaces without hitting objects to come to pick you up at the door.|
|Traffic and Stop Sign Control (Beta)– Recognizes stop signs and traffic lights and brings your car to a stop on approaching them.|
Safety Features on All Tesla Cars Since 2014
Many of the standard safety features that come automatically with your Tesla will help you manage construction zones.
The eight cameras and twelve sensors will help your car detect cars or obstacles that the car may impact and automatically apply the brakes according to the distance and other factors to make sure it does not hit it. This process is their automatic emergency braking system.
The forward and side cameras and sensors will warn the Automatic system of potential collisions with obstacles that might impact the car so that adjustments can be made to avoid impact.
The sensors and cameras will automatically cause the car to adjust its acceleration when something is detected in front of your vehicle while driving at slower speeds.
The car is warned when something enters your blind spot when changing lanes. The vehicle also can detect when your vehicle is drifting into another lane or off the road and automatically makes corrections to return you safely to your lane.
While all these tools certainly help in all situations, they can be critical in construction work zones. Most importantly, staying attentive is essential while using Autopilot to ensure your car stays where it needs to be.
How Has the Tesla Done in the Past in Construction Zones?
The Tesla senses cones, cement barriers, and fences that you see in construction zones and reacts to them. It helps it navigate, accelerate, brake, change lanes as needed, and steer to stay in its lane and avoid obstacles.
Construction zones often have poorly marked lanes, and in most cases, Tesla can figure out where to drive to stay in its lane. Around 2018, Tesla upgraded their neural net vision to 3D to help better detect objects on the road.
Tesla cars have been involved in some wrecks, but not necessarily in construction zones. Overall, Tesla has some of the safest vehicles on the highway. So far, they have very low fatality and injury rates.
The three deaths that have occurred have mostly come from driving too fast and having a stationary object suddenly appear in the road and impacting it. At speeds over fifty miles per hour, Autopilot has a more challenging time deciphering what action to take when objects suddenly appear in their lane.
There have been some incidents where objects have been partially in the lane, and Autopilot has had trouble adjusting to the narrower lane. Tesla used to have trouble knowing what to do at forks in the road or exit lanes to the left. Tesla has updated their software to try to fix this issue.
Tesla has worked hard to address and fix these issues to make their cars safer. Tesla plans to eventually have vehicles that can have full automation, which will require no human interaction or attention.
How Does Bad Weather Affect Testa Autopilot in Bad Weather?
Most cars do not drive as well in bad weather, even with human drivers. Have you ever noticed how many wrecks take place in bad weather? In fact, according to the Safer America Consumer Safety Information, 22 % of all accidents are caused by inclement weather.
Many accidents are weather-related, with 73 % of weather-related accidents occurring on wet highways and 46 % happening while raining. Over 6000 people in the United States are killed each year in weather-related accidents, with another 445,000 injuries. About 200,000 of these crashes are due to sleet or snow, with an additional 150,000 due to icy roads.
Most of the accidents are caused by poor driver visibility and traction being decreased from the weather. Like humans, the Tesla Autopilot often has trouble with enough visibility to make wise decisions about the road during bad weather. Fortunately, most people have reported their Tesla alerting the driver they need to drive.
While they cannot drive for you, at least they are programmed with enough knowledge to understand they cannot see well enough because of the poor visibility and have notified their owner to take over.
Some of the owners reported Autosteer went offline and was not available during incidents of bad weather.
Lack of sunlight at dusk, along with rain and the glare of lights from other cars, has also diminished visibility, causing the Autopilot to go offline. Of course, these issues would be heightened in construction zones where it is hard to know what to expect at the best of conditions.
The Tesla Autopilot, which does well under good weather conditions, does quite well in construction zones. However, in inclement weather, the Autopilot seems to have visibility issues that make it less safe.